EUGENE, Ore. — Occupy Eugene’s new protest site is having a positive effect on the neighborhood, according to some residents.
People traveling down the 1100 block of Lawrence Street tend to take a second look, because the foreclosed home is now decorated with Occupy propaganda. Neighbors say it’s an improvement from what this place use to be.
Reid Kimball stakes out his spot on the front yard of 1191 Lawrence Street.
“It’s been really quiet, really mellow, really laid back,” Kimball said.
He’s the only one there, with his laptop, a camping tent and about a dozen hand-made signs.
“We’ve definitely taken some lessons learned from the old federal building and are improving,” Kimball said.
Occupy Eugene activists have an organized system for their newest place of protest.
“We’re working on a sign-up sheet right here for during the day,” Kimball said.
They work in shifts, with plans to only keep a few protesters on site at a time.
“They might by unemployed or underemployed, or someone like me that has a part-time job, but I work from home so my schedule is very flexible,” Kimball said.
It’s been four days since the occupation started in the downtown neighborhood. So far, Eugene police say they haven’t heard any complaints–an improvement from what neighbors say the vacant house used to bring under no supervision.
“I had to call Eugene Police a number of times because fights were breaking out, sometimes there were as many as twelve men on the porch trying to break in,” said neighbor Lisa Arkin.
Now the protesters’ presence is bringing peace of mind to some neighbors.
“Occupy Eugene is really caring for it and being a safe and positive presence in our neighborhood. I feel a lot safer coming to work,” Arkin said.
“The majority has been extremely positive, hand waves, people talking to us, coming up and asking questions,” Kimball said.
“Foreclosure is a big issue on the East Coast as well,” said New York resident Harry Pomeranz. He took part in the original Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park. He says seeing this kind of display on the other side of the country is inspiring, and he says it highlights a very personal topic: people’s homes.
“I think it brings up the issues in terms of what people’s rights are and what priorities should be in terms of social justice, economic justice,” Pomeranz said.
Occupy Eugene says it doesn’t think its members are trespassing because the original owner’s signature on a trespassing notice expired, and police haven’t received any complaints, so far.